Late Spring down South means…mulberry season! One of my favorite ways for baby to try new foods is right from the tree, bush, or plant. It’s super healthy and it’s an experience you can tell fills them with wonder. I was definitely nervous at first- with the size of the berries, their little stem, and do you need to wash them first? But let me tell you this way of snacking and helping babies try new foods is tried and true.

baby smiling after trying mulberries for the first time

Where to Find Mulberries?

First let’s talk about how delicious and fun mulberries are. They feel like such a treat because you can’t really find them anywhere except straight from the tree. Maybe you hear about someone else’s tree you can visit and sneak some, but you won’t find them in Food Lion or a Farmer’s Market, most likely. Their shelf life is pretty short, so best to just eat them right off the tree, yum. Plus how fun is that? 

Mulberry trees can be found in greenways, woods, parks, or backyards. The most fun way to find them for me is actually just going on a long walk – looking on the ground where the long skinny blackish berries easily fall and make dark stains on the pavement or black spots in the grass. And the easiest way to collect them is laying down your sheet under the tree and give the branches a good shimmy. The more purple and squishy the better.

Fresh Mulberries In Ceramic Bowl

Tasting Wild Mulberries

They are seriously delicious! This was Sweet Baby Russell’s first fresh-off-the-tree snack when he was 6 months old… I was super nervous, he was so little! And because honestly we are taught that opening a bag of chips can be “safer” than giving children fresh foods, is it safe to eat right off a tree? (Yes). …and what if he can’t chew it? That stem is pointy, will he choke? And do we need to wash it? (Nah)

Russell trying a mulberry for the first time

It was the sheer joy and wonder when he saw Mom and Dad eating them right off the tree made me give up all of the fear. Dad is so good at helping me push through some of the limitations we put on babies and what they can do. And while of course we have to know our baby’s individual ability in chewing and food sizes, I believe babies naturally want to try new things and colorful foods, we just need to give them the opportunity. When we trust Russ and let him explore, stay curious, learn and grow, it’s amazing what this little man can do. We held the stem and he gnawed on the berry, gobbling them up left and right!

Mulberries can be mixed into oatmeal, packed into snack cups, or blended into yogurt for packing fresh pouches. I would just snip the stem first. But how to get babies to try new foods in the first place?

How to Get Babies to Try New Foods – 5 Steps

  1. Discover the food together – Walk to the tree, talking to your baby the whole time, “Let’s go to the mulberry tree, I wonder if there are any berries on it yet?” or “Oh wow! Is this a mulberry tree? Let’s look for the purple berries, those are the most ripe.”
  2. Role model the taste test, and do it verbally – “Oh wow! Look at all the purple berries! The purple ones are the best ones, they are so sweet and soft. YUM, I’m going to eat one now. Mmmmm” Use other senses too – describe how it looks, feels, smells, sounds. Is it squishy feeling? Does the tree sound rustly in the wind? This experience can be about exploration and not just taste!.
  3. Offer one to baby, holding out the plant so he can pick his own, if he hasn’t already. “Do you want to try one?”
  4. Stay Calm & Keep Eating. Don’t force it, but chances art if it’s a low pressure situation where trusted adults are eating the food, little babies will follow suit. Older babies may need more time and that’s okay! Continue to eat until he tries one himself (this is my favorite step).
  5. Smile, Smile Smile! Smiling says it all to baby – that the food is safe, that we are enjoying the food so they will too, and it associates positive, light experiences with the new foods. They may not be able to understand every word at first, but they will catch your vibe. A look of disgust means stay away, smiling means love and encouragement.

I not only cherish this activity because it is such a healthy snack for baby and full of quality time together, but it shows that tasting new fruits and veggies does not have to be stressful. These low pressure taste tests help baby begin to associate fresh foods with yummy flavors, and also positivity, ease and joy.

How to get baby to try new foods

I sent this picture out to friends and I got so many responses from parents that had also come across a mulberry bonanza! Have you? Would love to hear about it or see pics in the comments 🙂

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